Project: Entrepreneur skills
SCOPE: Providing inspiration, motivation and guidance for the unemployed to become entrepreneurs.
Bamidele Omotunde Alabi, a chartered accountant, quitted a paid job in the banking sector to become self employed. Now, as a successful entrepreneur, he is now inspiring young Nigerians into taking that big leap to shift from pay-slip to profit making. He holds a B.Sc (Hons) degree in Sociology from the Ondo State University, now University of Ado-Ekiti and a Masters degree (MBA) from the University of Lagos, as well as a Masters degree in Marketing from the same university. His initiative is to engender entrepreneurial spirit among hordes of Nigerian youths, particularly the unemployed. He is our role model of the week.
Why he resigned from a banking job?
I retired from banking for a number of reasons. The most important is that I had always purposed in my heart to stop labouring in other peoples' fields, helping them to build their barns from the age of forty. I had resolved to stop working for salary and start aiming for profits from that age. Essentially, I stopped working at the time I did because the words of Zig Zigler which says that "The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for the lifetime for what you want at the moment", began to have real meaning to me. Not only that, I quit my job because I needed to heed the counsel of Dr. Benjamin Carson that "Anyone who refuses to test his limits, anyone unwilling to move out of his/her comfort zone, is destined to live life inside the envelope". Specifically, I knew I had to leave when I did because I had gotten to such point on the job that my morale had dipped so badly that the "the job" became "the task" and I found I was merely labouring to stay on. I found that I was increasingly feeling miserable every day that I stayed longer in employment. However, the eventual turning point was the day one of my junior colleagues sent me a life changing sms that "Mr. Alabi, why continue to stay on a job you no longer enjoy? You are a bundle of talents, and I know you can excel on your own out there. All you need is a bit of packaging". That was the day I made up my mind it was over.
The need to rouse the consciousness of people in this generation to entrepreneurship is what inspired me. I have come across many young people who possess massive talents and are highly innovative they have no business being in paid employment. It also beats my imagination that I find people with great skills which they can turn into money making ventures and yet they complain about not being employed. It is the need to transform the tragedy of "civil servant, salary dependent" orientation with which this generation has been imbued, that is my greatest inspiration. Ours is a generation that is not primed for self-determination and the reason is not far fetched. All we are taught is to go to school, get multiple qualifications, and go out looking for where to be employed! We all go to school to be taught "how" and we do not get curious to find out "why". "We do not realise that, according to Dwight D. Eisenhower, "the person who knows the "how" will always have a job, but the person who knows the "why" will always be his boss". I am inspired by the desire to provide alternative education unlike the kind of education the system presently offers, which do not teach us to be goal-oriented and self motivated people. My motivation also stems from my realisation of the fact that the time has come for my generation to shift their paradigm from payslip to profit. The time has come for us to become goal-oriented and self motivated people. The time has come for each of us to take our destiny in our hands and mould it in the way that we desire it.
The first kind of challenges came from a lot of the people around me, so many of who thought I was out of my mind to have resigned from my job at the time I did. Only very few gave me the boost that I needed. I got zero support as some of them scorned me, made snide remarks and treated me with disdain. Not many people applauded or encouraged me. Many of them handed me fore-warnings - things to let me know before hand that I would not get their sympathy if anything goes wrong since they expected me to play it safe and I did not". You know the Nigerian environment and a whole lot of the systemic failures we endure. The system is so not predictable that planning, goals setting and all that are a real challenge for budding entrepreneurs. There was also the challenge of finding good and willing mentors. It was quite difficult as many potential mentors did not care or they honestly did not have the luxury of time to spare for mentoring or were suspicious of ones real motives. Not forgetting the challenge of finances. This, unlike in the more developed climes, is not readily available and accessible to a budding entrepreneur. There was also challenge of patronage. You really always have to know somebody in places before you can get patronages in such places and that should really not be the case. Indeed, the challenges are legion but we do not see them. Instead, we see the opportunities in those challenges. Napoleon Hill did say that "every negative event contains within it the seed of an equal or greater benefit".
How he intends to spread the message
My book “Burst the Myth of Self Employment” is a well researched and insightful prose with a motivational and inspirational theme. Its distinctive message borders on fostering self-employment and entrepreneurial spirit amongst hordes of Nigerian youths, particularly the unemployed. The book is the first in a series, and it attempts at awakening the consciousness of young Nigerians to self-employment and entrepreneurship vide the vehicle of Small and Medium Enterprises, which undoubtedly is the way of the future for Nigeria's Economic growth and development. It is on record that there is an obvious nexus and conjunction between entrepreneurship and the economic growth of many wealthy nations of today. It is more appropriate to say the book attempts to preach paradigm shift-from pay-slip to profit.
I hope to be collaborating with the people-oriented government of my state (Ondo) in a not too distant future in unleashing these initiatives. We hope to work with the government to have entrepreneurial curriculum and training infused in the educational curriculum at all levels, undertake training for different set of people, for instance, civil servants who would ultimately retire and have something they can retire into, we would have made significant impact in spreading and imparting the message.
How to reach ones potentials
There are a number of factors that can help one reach his/her potentials. Though they are not exhaustive, the following will be highly imperative: Constant deep personal reflection; a chronic optimistic attitude; goals setting; self motivation; development of personal Philosophy; assertiveness; objectivity; doggedness; Consistence; Persistence; Perseverance; stoicism etc. However, by far the most important factor is the person aiming at reaching his/her potentials. This assertion is chiefly underscored by the legendary Henry Ford who once said "Whether you believe you can or you believe you cannot, you are absolutely right". Without a doubt, reaching ones potentials is not such an easy task and one can easily get distracted or discouraged along the way but I have often heard people say that "If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere".
Values for successful entrepreneurs
It doesn't take too much. Nonetheless, anyone wishing to be self-employed will be a spontaneous, and a persistent (calculated) risk-taker who will love challenges and not be afraid to fail. Such people will possess the will to succeed and be open to different ideas and be comfortable in experimenting with new ways to do things as well as adapting to changing circumstances. They will be curious and intuitive, always willing to learn something new and explore unfamiliar terrains. They will possess a positive attitude and are able to recover quickly from emotional setbacks particularly when things become challenging. For the successful entrepreneur, going the extra mile at all times should be the core value because not many people ply that route.
What fulfilment means to him
Doing what you love and loving what you do. Warren Buffet was once asked to give his personal definition of success and he said "success is when you don't know if you are working or you are playing". But the ultimate fulfilment is when what you love to do and do with all your love brings the desired result. In this regard, I will be ultimately fulfilled when the government of this country includes entrepreneurship training in the educational curriculum at all levels such that every graduate that leaves the university is already adequately primed for job creation as against job searching and solicitation. This is one development that will drastically reduce unemployment and under-employment in Nigeria.
What are your philosophies of life and who are your role models?
According to hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, "you will always miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take. My philosophies of life are derived from that simple saying. I have a number of people who have impacted my life tremendously-some of them at close range and some from afar. First of these is my father, the Honourable Justice (Rtd) Ade-Alabi. Apart from his highly pristine values, he is the most contented human being I have known all of my life. Pastor Adeboye, not only for the same reason as my father, but also for his humility and spirituality. Dr. Mike Adenuga, for his business acumen, doggedness and stoicism. Dr. Sunny Obazu-Ojeagbase for his trail-blazing initiatives.